provokeit

provoking what happens in IT

car haters and car-ma

I took my subaru forester down to car lovers this afternoon to get washed. I know, I know, this is a departure from technology. but it isn’t in a way.

I take my own bucket, sponge and car wash soap, not because I am cheap, but the guy who details my car for me tells me the reason that my paint fades is because of previously using the concentrated stuff in the mix at car lovers. so he has put me on to this macguires soap and wax lite stuff. works well and my paint doesn’t fade anymore.

anyway, the brains of the operation of car lovers, the guy who hangs around making sure that the money goes in the spray units, doesn’t bother putting up a sign stating that one of the booths is not working. so car after car, including me, thinks that they’ve hit the jackpot by getting into an empty booth straight off and not having to wait.

after falling for this, and then washing my car in another booth, I came out to dry the car. some other punter, not too happy with the fact that the spare booth wasn’t working, came out furious.

now the car lovers guy wasn’t too bright – he tells this punter that “he doesn’t have any signs”. the punter, a bit agressively (and stoopidly), pushes the car lovers guy in front of me yelling all sorts of obsenities. I look at the punter and the car lovers guy and tell the punter “I’m not too happy either mate, but going to court for a $10 wash gone wrong on a sunday is not the best way to finish the week”. the punter realises this and walks away.

the car lovers guy doesn’t thank me for stepping in, and if I hadn’t the punter would have stepped all over him. anyway…

so I go to get a can of coke from the outside vending machine at car lovers having meticulously dried my car, feeling rather proud. the coke machine is jammed with something and takes my coin. I can’t retreive it.

I find the car lovers guy, hoping that my previous action would at least have counted for something. not a dime. he looks at me and says “sorry mate, we don’t have a sign for that”.

I was prompted to tell him of the story of the american and russian astronauts [if you haven’t heard this one basically nasa spent a whole heap of money making a pen that wrote upside down and in no gravity. the russians decided to use a pencil].

I thought that if I did this, this would prompt him to think.

then I thought, if one punter coming to punch you in the face over a $10 car wash is not going to sway your thinking, then a cute little story isn’t either…

November 5, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

I am so last year

about 6 weeks ago a mate of mine (well actually I’ve only known him for a short time but we hit it off well and to say he’s a colleague is a bit wanker-ish; this is australia – we’ve shared alcohol and poker, the card game, so we’re mates) put me on to writing my own blog and the blog world.

now as a family, I created a family blog abvout 4 years ago using sixapart’s moveable type. I’m not going to publicise it here, because it’s just for our family – we share photos of the kids and stories and stuff. and it works.

so I knew about blogs and what they do. however, I wasn’t really into it though.

but the real power for me came in finding out about bloggers, the world they inhabit and how far ahead of the game in news they are from everyone else.

this mate, rich, and I were talking about mr guy kawasaki and I was raising some points that I had read 3 months or so earlier. only to find that rich had had him as a guest on the gadget show 3 months ago. 

so you can start to see that I feel like a gimp now.

hopefully I will catch up in the not too distant future and that my intelligence will be again worth something.

November 4, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 3 Comments

I hate financial packages

for years I have worked with financial products and built them too. and I mean from your SAPs right down to the small packages like quicken and myob.

so this year, for my own consulting services, I thought I would look afield for a new package.

and I found it. dare I say, it microsoft’s small business accounting 2006.

I know what you’re gonna say – “it’s ms” or, if you have looked for it “I can’t find it anywhere”.

and that’s right punters. it’s only available in the good old us of a at this point in time.

so you have to get it on download, and the fake a us shipping address and then some poor sod, if they are lucky, is going to get a package with your software in it!

luckily for you though, you get the activation keys by email and they don’t.

but why do I like it so much?

because it is dead simple. the user interfaces for each of the 6 sections show you icons with a flowchart of what is supposed to happen and it leads you through. it’s like the dummies book built into an app.

I naturally hate it – it’s just an instinctual thing that I have with all finance products – but I like it because it represents good user design.

and so far it has been very stable and has a weekly backup monitor SOOTB in there so that you can’t lose your data.

the internals are also customisable enough to cater for other things non american. like, I was able to create a gst account for all my transactions and add this as a separate as well as an included line item. and you can export all of your data to excel and word and create your own personalised invoices.

now this is what simple software was meant to be about.

if finances sh!t you like they do me, you should check it out.

October 31, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 3 Comments

wanna be a w*nker?

…well then this is the tool for you – Acronym Finder.

did you know that there are 62 distinct definitions for the acronym LOL?

I wanna know what the business and revenue model is for such a site…maybe they need to be talking to the guys at google…hopefully some evil will come from this.

October 31, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 2 Comments

the face of innovation 2

today was an eye opener. in my last post I was talking about being on a panel for ibm about innovation.

in discussing the topic with people round the table, it seems to me that australia is in absolute trouble in the next few years – we just haven’t spent any money in training IT people to come up the ranks over the last few years because of the whole dot com crash.

so what does that mean for you and me in the IT world? we’re gonna make more money! that’s right! there is less of us, but more innovation required and more demand for us.

seriously though, it highlights the fact that most us of have been screaming for the last 5 years – our government has not done anything to help us as an industry survive.

October 31, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

the face of innovation

tomorrow I get to sit on a panel of 3 cio’s at an ibm function for cios on the forward strategies of ceos regarding innovation.

this will be a rivetting discussion because ibm paid for 750 ceos across asia pac to be interviewed – 70% of them personally interviewed, the balance by phone or survey. the results are transparent and not vendor biased which was great to see.

the result is a series of talks with ceos and cios about innovation across asia pac region.

I get invited to so many events, breakfasts etc – none of them stacking up to mediaconnect’s influence conference this year by the way – that I often just pass the invites to my staff to give them exposure to the world of vendor marketing, or I pass them in to my bin.

but it is refreshing to see that someone with a bit of money is spending time and energy on an unbiased report on something so crucial. I’ll let you know.

October 30, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

lucy in the sky with diamonds

with all of the sutff going on in my worklife this past 2 weeks, I have been really relishing any time with my family: my wife, my 2.5 yr old and my 12 week old.

more notably, my 2.5 yr old who has a gift for music. he can name most instruments in an orchestra by sound and can pick out different instruments in music without much issue. he’s been doing this since he started to talk.

as a keen musician myself, I have been trying to get my 2.5 yr old completely immersed in music as I guess it’s better than 24×7 wiggles and studies have proven that kids with musical talent are much smarter than those without and have to study less, tending to be less stressful in life.

anyway, the higlight of my week was listening to sgt peppers lonely hearts club band by the beatles today with my boy. we listened to lucy in the sky diamonds together; the whole song looking at the ceiling while just lying on the rug on the floor and listening to the instruments. any of you with kids will know how hard it is to get a 2.5 yr old to sit still for 3.5 minutes at the best of times.

if this happened every day I’m sure I wouldn’t appreciate it as much.   

October 29, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

when poaching is uncool

this week has been a killer week for me. I nearly lost all of my infrastructure team. and as far as I am concerned, without a decent infrastructure team in place, you may as well pack up your bat and ball and call it a day.

so we’ve been making some redundancies in our business overall – not related to IT at all, but to the rest of the fat in the business. however, a vendor that we use for some of our equipment that just happens to run a national outsourcing business, oversaw some of the redunandancies being made in the business while on a visit.

that prompted the vendor to dangle the carrot at my infrastructure manager. while I cannot stop him from going, the vendor’s approach is way uncool. and I don’t mind my guys leaving either on their own volition. I just don’t expect our vendors to see my IT group as a poaching ground, especially when I am paying them to provide me with a service.

this cascaded with 2 of the other members deciding to call it a day because their manager was going. 

to add insult to injury, the vendor came our corporate box at a sporting event on the day before the resignation was presented to me, being all ‘pally’ and ‘we should catch up sometime’.

yeah we should, starting with my fucking hands wrapped firmly around your fucking neck pal.

suffice to say, we are in the process of reviewing all of the contracts that we have with that vendor. 

the end process is that I have had to review the contracts of all of the members within the team and increase salaries to ensure that they will stay and keep the business operational. while the cost has not come to 6 figures, it has come scarily close.

October 26, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 2 Comments

linux and my monitor – the surliness begins

so I stoopidly thought that linux would be able to install my widescreen monitor without any issue. wrong.

after installing a radeon graphics card; pretty good spec too, linux could not run the linux drivers for it properly. forums later and the suggestion is to use another graphics card. that’s cool. I can handle the $200 waste on a good card to meet an o/s.

the next step is take out the offending widescreen monitor and replace with a 19″ flat screen. (yes I know some of you are going to say tech wanker for having all of this gear, but remember, I have an IT shop at my disposal).  the result – linux cannot give up the old settings it stored for the widescreen. so trying to open the graphics card software just fails because the screen displays in the middle of the old screen resolution and cannot be resized at all.

stoopid fucking thing – there I said it.

you have to get this stuff right when setting up a machine. the last time I had this sort of issue was trying to get a VGA screen to take to 386. I thought the world had progressed?

so now my linux box is sitting doing nothing because I have the shits and gone back to my faster windows machine.

October 22, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 3 Comments

black, yellow and white so far

I must say that the install of sled 10 from novell is quite good. very easy to install and quick off the mark.

the only issue that I have is that it could not install my widescreen monitor naturally, and I will have to find a driver for it. windows picked it up without issue.

other than that, it’s great.

I do have one question though, why can linux can bundled with firefox and windows cannot be bundled with ie?

October 21, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

feeding the penguin

most of you know my environment in the corporate space is microsoft.

as a corporation, places like india and china are targets for us to move into. we are already in the middle east and other parts of asia at the moment and licensing is hard. even in australia, uk, us and new zealand, licensing is a tough issue. while I am the cio of the group, the individual business units operate individually so I am one step removed from having to audit their licenses.

so I got to thinking sometime ago when we were rebuilding the architecture for our new systems, ‘what if we went open source?’. the ultimate result was that in a lot of cases we couldn’t run open source desktops for admistration clients because they require ms components running locally. and the servers still needed to be ms for the .net 2.0 components.

however, the browser applications should run on most browsers outside of ms – otherwise there would be a potential security issue. if I could get the users in our network who run only browser apps on to open source, then this could be a considerable saving for the group.

so first step is to be the guinea pig.

so now I have one complete machine dedicated to linux (sled 10 from novell) and I will over the next few weeks, play with this and evaluate – and obviously blog about it.

the probably begs the question then, ‘why novell sled 10 – why not go hardcore and get something not owned by a big software company?’

well the answer is simple. I know what it takes to build software. my group builds four core (and differing) apps that handle substantial sums of monies each year. I also know what it takes to release good software.

in going open source, I am going to trust that the good people at novell have some release management campaign in place before releasing dud software to the market on linux. if not, then I would just be swapping ms for linux, without any advantage other than cost.

so for the $50 per year license, it’s cheaper than most anti-virus packages for a whole lot more.

on with the show as they say.

October 21, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

60 mins and ewe toob

while trying to get some downtime last nite I flickr’d to 60 mins on australian tv.

thy’re trying to capitalise on the whole g00gle and ewe toob buyout at the moment and run a story on it.

he’s been saying it for a while – and I was a bit sceptical – but my sceptiscm was crystallised. richard giles you are perfectly right – the mainstream media have no idea what has hit them and how to deal with it. 

October 16, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 2 Comments

wotaweek

I am involved at the moment in helping a pretty cool idea come to market – something that, when it takes off, will make the inventors some pretty cool cash. hopefully some of that will trickle my way in time.

so I have been flat out in my day job and the outside work to write.

I did get a chance to catch up with Sarah Sause from Technology Choices who I met at the Influence Conference a couple of months back. We had a good opportunity to talk about a lot of things, in particular the rubbish being touted about SOA, Web 2.0 and other things that come to heart.

so over the next week or so I will have a rant and rave about such things.

in the meantime, if you are feeling challenged by your family and work colleagues over technology choices when buying presents for the festive season, check out simon sharwood’s article in the latest MIS magazine.

October 12, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

from architect to salesman

they say that good career people reinvent themselves every 10 years.

so would it appear that maybe young bill, while lapping up the vote on his new philanthropic life, has in fact changed roles from microsoft chief architect to microsoft vp business development africa region?

October 6, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 3 Comments

he loves me, he loves me not

well I gave a serve to the people down at microsoft for the poor form that was the office 2007 beta 2 release.

and last week I wrote about how they have released the tech refresh for the beta 2 release.

after a week of thrashing this thing on my microsoft only machine, I am pleased to say that I can now produce more than one email without office crashing. hoo-bloody-ray.

I did notice one slight hiccup though; albeit a very funny one – visio 2007 won’t allow you to go to about | visio to find any details. for some strange reason, it collapses and sends off the error to microsoft.

gotta love the technology. 

October 6, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

the podcast punchup

ok, so jobs and his boys are starting to feel the heat of a dimishing ipod market and have started applying an ‘apple tax’ for every appliance made by a manufacturer to suit an ipod.

that’s right, build a pair of aftermarket headphones for an ipod, and apple slap a tax on it.

but that’s not all – they are now threatened by the case of people using the term ‘podcast’. so much so that they have sent nasty little ‘cease and desist’ letters to a number of podcasters in the vein that they change the name of podcast to something else.

it gets even worse – apple attempted to get the term ‘ipodcast’ registered as a trademark with USPTO- and they got rejected.

personally I am wondering how long it will before they take action with macromedia/adobe over their breeze product and the term ‘pod’ being applied to everything item, like a messenging client, in their product.

or do they go one step further and ask that nasa retro change their ‘space pod’ to ‘space thingymijiggy’ in potential view that nasa could be violating the potential of apple releasing a joint venture podcast with myspace called ‘spacepod’?

so after some suggestion, the rooster has taken it upon himself to write to mr jobs and provide him with an upfront royalty cheque for $1 for the use of the word podcast. the rooster and knightwise have been talking about this issue recently at the global geek podcast.  

I wonder what will happen here – of course I will let you know if a result is garnered.

October 3, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 1 Comment

mapped up

thanks to the rooster for this one – mapped up.

essentially this site has a map of the world showing you where people are blogging right now. tre cool.

here’s my virgin click on mapped up. I have all the luck…

October 2, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

phishing with ie

while the boys and gals at microsoft are doing their darndest to get everyone to convert to ie7 at the moment, there have been a number of reports about the vector markup language (vml) exploit for ie6 and below.

however, on the good news story front for ie7, a survey just finished by 3sharp identified that ie7 edges out netcraft as the most accurate antiphishing product.

after all of the hammering of late, the ie boys have got to get some good news somewhere…

October 2, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 1 Comment

a single flower

enough of the hammering of IT for the moment.

you must support this great idea of philanthropy – so simple and effective – www.asingleflower.com

September 29, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | Leave a comment

recruitment and the percentage scam

sometime ago I was in the process of hiring a number of people and decided to farm the process outside to a recruitment firm. this was about 3.5 years ago and we were assembling a team of 20 people. IT specialists. not cheap people by any means.

at that time, we were able to negotiate our way down to a rate of about 9% for letting the recruiting agency find people through seek.com for us. the end recruiting fees would have been around the $150k mark at the end of the process.

at the time I felt that this was high but went along with it.

when I came to my recent role 3 years ago I had to hire more people. I found, with disgust, that I was getting hammered 14% for IT staff. so on the average IT person’s wage ~ $80k per annum, I was up for $11k in fees.

let me break this down for you even more. the average contractor (in business type services) in australia earns around $80 per hour for their efforts. an hr person, looking for staff using seek, should be earning this amount of money – perhaps a substantially larger amount of money if they were finding cios, cfos or ceos.

but for the average punter, $80 per hour is adequate.

so at that rate, there is 137.5 hours worth of work to be allocated against finding the average employee.

I cannot fathom that any hr person would be spending 130+ hours to find a generalised resource for you. I mean they get the resumes, talk to the person to see if they have 2 heads, and then send them on through for you to look at. if you like them, you interview, most likely three times and then get the hr person to do the reference checks.

most hr people I ask about this tell me that it takes them less than 20 hours to fill a role. they admit it! which is even worse – they admit taking 100 hours of money for nothing from you!

I’ve lived life as a vendor, supplier and cio with a golden rule – you owe what you owe and nothing less.

I constantly feel aggreived by the amount of money that the hr fraternity want to charge.

so recently, I negotiated a time and materials rate with an hr firm to help me find people.

why?

well for one, every other normal contractor in business works under this sort of rate, or an agreed daily rate; not give me a percantage.

secondly, there is an accountability of the work being done by the amount of hours being taken to fill the role.

thirdly, I pay for the things that I want.

richard giles was recently talking about the change in communication methods for the media going forward – I think that there exists a real potential for the hr and recruiting industry to reinvent itself to meet the real needs of companies, rather than the bs costing in place at the moment – no wonder sites like seek.com flourish.

September 27, 2006 Posted by | Blogroll, technology | 1 Comment